Not that I disagree with much of your observations but you fail to miss the real issue that most people have with clapping.
- It’s a useless replacement on its own. It conveys enthusiasm, instead of quality.
- It values pandering your followers, instead of giving them something to think about or allow for a discussion to take place. You no longer want someone to think your piece is good but to think it’s the most brilliant thing even written — you don’t want a clap but an applause.
- You don’t have balance. You can have 10 readers that liked what you wrote but only 4 of them applauded it, with one of out of the four becoming a raving fan of your piece and giving it 50 claps. You actually don’t know how your piece stands in comparison to your other pieces. Not from a glance, anyway.
- You rely on emotional weight, rather than on intellectual weight. In order to get high enough number, you will word your sentences in a certain way and try to achieve a more emotional reward from the people reading the piece.
- As a metric, a true/false rating system is much more accurate than a x/10 system. People tend to fail in evaluating the quality and usually make a random decision.
I think Medium mistake is replacing the existing system, instead of adding it as an option. There is also a question of limits, that they didn’t really put too much thought about.